Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Present to You, Apologism, and His Name is Brodie Croyle

Some seven or eight days ago, the 2011 NFL season commenced, and I'll be damned if it's not going to be a long one. Some two or three seasons ago, I never, in my wildest dreams, would've envisioned that a season worse than either of the Kansas City Chiefs' campaigns between 2007-09 could exist. It now appears entirely possible, but that's not what I want to discuss today.

Some six or seven years ago I joined my first (and last) fantasy baseball league, and while I’m tempted to bore you with how-not-to-run-a-franchise highlights, I’ll note the detail that is most relevant to this post: Our league jumped around from server to server for a few years, and that, friends, is a sad thing for one reason: Gone are some absolute message-board gems. You’ll have to take my word on that and stay with me as we move quickly from the humorous into matters of serious measure.

In the fall of 2004, I was accepted to grad school, slated to begin the following fall semester, which meant I had to get a place of my own. That February I did, and courtesy of the best sous chef schedule every heard of in all the restaurant histories of forever -– M-W (open), Th (close), Fri (mid), Sat/Sun (off) –- I suddenly found myself with free time on Saturdays. By the following March, the college-football season already over, I did manage to, by happenstance, get my fair share of ESPN footage of the quarterbacks entering the NFL draft class. I was most impressed with the arm and the accuracy of Alabama’s Brodie Croyle.

In and around the bubble of time in which I saw said Croyle footage, it didn’t occur to me that the Chiefs would seriously pursue him as a potential draft pick, but the thought of Kansas City nabbing him did cross my mind.

By the time draft weekend rolled around, I remember being on our fantasy-baseball Web site and seeing my boy Gerard Portmanteau post a message with the subject heading “Screamin’ Jay Cutler.” Obviously, when I clicked on it, I confirmed what I already knew to be true: The Vanderbilt signal caller had been nabbed by the Denver Broncos.

I immediately went into panic mode, ever fearful that Denver would ultimately find their Elway-throne heir, and given that Mike Shanahan was still at the franchise reigns, a sinking feeling came over me that this pick would be right on the money. I suppose that, until that moment, I’d not given much thought to a young quarterback being drafted by the Chiefs, but that was because Trent Green was still under center, and for the most part, playing pretty solid with decent consistency.

But now, the wager was on the table, and it was time to raise, or at least call our divisional counterpart’s selection. KC went with Tamba Hali and Bernard Pollard in rounds one and two, and then, in round three, opted for Croyle. And I was ecstatic.

Having never been a big college football fan, I was unaware of Croyle’s NCAA injury history until I did some digging. Naturally I discovered how much time he’d missed, and that he’d been an animal in high school, but missed his senior year by way of a torn ACL. A freshman redshirt, Croyle started for every contest in his sophomore season, but missed significant time the following two seasons via a shoulder injury and a tear of the ACL in the other knee. In the 2005 season, he straight lit it up.

Misguided as I might’ve been, I went all in on the Brodie Croyle bandwagon. Hell, I practically built the thing from scratch and drove it, at times alone, over terrain Oregon Trail survivors would’ve deemed rough. When Green went down and ultimately ended his time in red and gold, I was pumped for Croyle to step up and be the first legitimate Division I quarterback the Kansas City Chiefs had drafted and developed in my football-viewing lifetime. When I say that, I don’t mean to discount Todd Blackledge class of ’83, 40 games as a Chief –- but I do mean to say that I’m speaking of a quarterback that gets drafted, developed, and plays well over a significant portion of their career. Blackledge went 13-11 in Kansas City with a completion percentage below 50, threw 29 TDs to 38 picks and had a rating of 62. He was also drafted instead of Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, and Elway.

Translated: I wanted this kid to be the man, the bees’ knees, and the predominant jersey seen on Sundays at Arrowhead. He turned out, to my chagrin, to be the glass man, the man with knees as fragile as bees’, and to date, I’ve seen one other person rock a number 12, other than myself.

Words cannot describe the pain I have felt, the pain my fellow Chiefs fans have felt, watching one of two types of Kansas City football teams over the years: 1) a drafted, semi-developed quarterback under center for a really, really shitty team, or 2) a decent-to-good team with a free-agent quarterback of sorts that, for varying reasons, can’t get the Chiefs back to the status of champions.

All that said, my friends and colleagues have listened to me rant and rave about Croyle, obnoxiously be his biggest supporter since that fateful April day that occurred more than five years ago. Like my pal Old No. 7 said, “that body of work appears to be incomplete,” which meant, in precisely this many words: Croyle couldn’t make it through high school or college without injury, so why would he suddenly be able to do so in the pros?

I just thought he would. I thought it’d be that kind of situation where the wounds heal and you come back stronger. I thought those Beowulf forearms would be launching lasers into extra-padded receiver gloves for, at minimum, eight or nine years. I thought that, shitty as the team was -– and make no mistake: The Chiefs were nothing shy of shitty from tick one of the Herman Edwards regime until the batteries of that watch expired -– that Croyle would be the foundation upon which the house of greatness was built.

I thought the Crimson Tide alum would be the end to one of the most awful sports-fan droughts imaginable. I thought he would become a Kansas City icon, that his hot wife would have five-star service for evermore. And yes, I thought that many a friend and colleague would have a touch of crow on their collective dinner plate, that in the end, it wouldn’t matter, because we’d forget about it (Editor’s Note: At least until I got drunk enough to obnoxiously remind everyone) as we feasted on smoked meat at each other’s Super Bowl parties.

And as this abbreviated 2011 off-season started and stopped, the writing was all but on the wall. The Chiefs, having selected Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi in the draft, eventually signed him to a deal, and then signed Tyler Palko as well (Note: The latter of which was, in my opinion, a mistake, but my opinion, as I’ve just addressed, is faulty at best.), meaning that the free-agent Croyle would not be resigned in Kansas City.

As the pre-season began and progressed, the play of Palko began to suggest that my opinion might hold a Dixie cup of water after all (Note: For the record, I still think the Matt Cassel signing was a Band-Aid, one with little adhesive at best.). And then, the Arizona Cardinals made news, signing Croyle to their club. There it was, then: my new billboard for the ’11 campaign. Kevin Kolb goes down for the season; Croyle comes in and mops up the NFC West competition. The latest version of my Croyle bromance, however, was terminated 10 days into its existence when the Cardinals released him.

It must, then, be stated that this looks like the end of the NFL road for Croyle, that he’ll probably move back to Rainbow City (Note: What a terrible town name.), and do some kind of Alabama football-related work, perhaps in pee wee, or at the high school level. The only thing that’s certain is that he will not be the leader to take Chiefs Nation back to the Promised Land, a region they’ve only been close to once in the last 40-plus years.

Let’s then have a look at the snaps Brodie Croyle took in his Kansas City tenure:


October 1 vs. SF, week four, 0-41 W

Stats: three attempts for -3 yards, no scores, long of -1

The deets: This was Croyle’s first NFL action, and by “action” I mean presence on the field in an in-game situation.

Interpretation: He took the final three snaps of regulation –- all clock-draining knees –- to finalize the 49er dismantling.

October 15 @PIT, week six, 7-45 L

The deets: With 6:49 left in the contest, and the Chiefs trailing, Croyle’s first sequence of plays was perhaps a harbinger of things to come: run, incomplete (Jeff Webb), sack, punt. Although Pittsburgh punted on the ensuing possession as well, it only got worse for Croyle next time out: incompletion (Eddie Kennison), interception (intended for Kris Wilson) returned for a touchdown.

They get the ball back, obviously, and go completion, run, completion headed into the two-minute warning, and on the other side of it: completion, run, and deep ball for another pick.

Interpretation: So you hang that first turnover on the kid, and you wave the late-game Hail Mary one, as those happen all the time. The biggest thing to note about this game, though, is that it was the day after the infamous Passion Party, which you can Google if you like; I’m too ashamed to link to it.

For my money, this should’ve been a sign of what would come with Herman Edwards captaining the ship. He should’ve been canned after this game.


September 16 @ CHI, week two, 10-20 L

Stats: 4/4, 55 yards, long of 32

The deets: This is the first game in which Croyle would get legitimate live action, and this is a fresh reminder of how terrible this Chiefs team was: Chicago players of the game: Cedric Benson, Bernard Berrian, and Rex Grossman. As for Croyle, he again came in late in the fourth, and was immediately sacked, just like Huard had been all day. The play was nullified, though, when sacker Tommie Harris was flagged for a facemask penalty. He then hit Michael Bennett for a short loss, Samie Parker for a 10-yard gain, Jeff Webb for a 32-yard gain, Bennett for five more yards, then Bennett again for 10 yards, who fumbled, turning the ball over to Chicago on their own 14 with two and-a-half minutes left.

Interpretation: A score there puts the Chiefs –- albeit with little time -– within a field goal, and had they won, Croyle would’ve been 1-0 in games played.

October 7 vs JAX, week five, 7-17 L

Stats: 6/13, 83 yards, 1 TD, long of 35

The deets: Croyle comes in –- again, late in the fourth -– to try to change the fate of his trailing squad, one that’s down this time 17-zip at home. His first play is an eight-yard gain to Tony Gonzalez, but it’s followed by successive incompletions to Larry Johnson and Webb; Chiefs punt. His second drive begins with an 11-yard gain to Kolby Smith, and incompletion to Parker, and a completion to Gonzalez.

On the next play, he’s sacked, and fumbles, but recovers it himself. This is followed by a 10-yard gain to Smith, a clock-stopping spike, a 35-yard completion to Dwayne Bowe, three incompletions (Bowe, Webb, Gonzalez), and a fourth-down touchdown to Parker with only enough time left on the clock to kick the point after touchdown.

Interpretation: The Chiefs couldn’t score for three-plus quarters, and only did so once Croyle entered the game.

November 11 vs. DEN, week 10, 11-27 L

Stats: 17/30, 162 yards, INT, long of 18

The deets: Brodie’s first third-quarter appearance finds the Chiefs down 20-8. The second-year QB leads the Chiefs on a 13-play drive that results in a field goal. KC’s defense holds the Broncos on the ensuing possession, and Croyle marches the Chiefs from their own 10 to the Denver 35, where a field-goal attempt sails wide left. Croyle returns, this time to run his first no-huddle live action, and, as was frequently the case under the wizardly Edwards/Solari regime, a run play was called on first down. A sack, incompletion, and punt soon followed. Croyle got another no-huddle opportunity, which resulted in two short completions to incompletions and a Champ Bailey interception when Croyle targeted Bowe on third down. Denver, simply trying to burn the clock, turned the ball over on four downs, and still another no-huddle go for Croyle and company.

The drive started on the Kansas City 26, and ended on the Denver 15 when Croyle was sacked for a significant loss.

Interpretation: Brodie made his share of errors on this day, but a few more interesting stats for that afternoon look like this:

• The Chiefs rushed for 67 yards on the day while Denver put up 141.

• The Broncos surrendered one sack for a loss of six yards; KC 4-28.

• Denver turned the ball over once, while the Chiefs coughed it up four times.

November 18 @ IND, week 11, 10-13 L

Stats: 19/27, 169 yards, TD, long of 21

The deets: Brodie’s first start, at the RCA Dome no less. Opening drive starts at KC 33, features four runs, two Croyle completions before a punt. Drive two: two runs and an incompletion. Drive three (still scoreless after two missed Adam Vinatieri field-goal attempt misses): starts at the Chiefs 36, features five runs, four Croyle completions (one incomplete), and goes to the IND 25. Chiefs miss a field goal, but get an ensuing Peyton Manning interception on the first play of the drive, leading to two runs, one Croyle completion, and a KC FG.

Colts punt, Croyle goes 2/4, hands off once, Chiefs miss another FG. This, by the way, was Dave Rayner missing these tries. Rayner of the replaced-Justin-Medlock fame. The Medlock the Chiefs drafted in the fifth round of that year’s draft. The draft in which Mason Crosby was still available. The draft in which defensive-unit and offensive-line needs were much higher than kicking. The year in which former Chiefs place kicker Lawrence Tynes won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants. The Super Bowl in which, yes, Eli Manning connected with David Tyree for the catch, but the final score –- 17-14 –- featured the difference of Tynes first-quarter field goal from 32 yards out. Rayner, through two quarters missed from 43 and 45. In a dome. But I digress.

Colts punt again. Ensuing Chiefs drive: Run, run, sack from the shotgun formation. Colts tie. Chiefs, with over a minute left, run two rushing plays and let the first-half clock expire. Colts punt on their first drive of the second half. Croyle completes, scrambles for four (nullified by holding), hands off, throws incomplete, and Chiefs punt.

The Colts march down the field for a touchdown.

Kansas City’s next drive starts at the 23. It features four runs, six Croyle passes (four caught, two not) before Croyle hits Bowe for 19 yards and a score. Colts punt; Chiefs go three and out (negative rush, one incompletion, and one 11-yard pass-and-catch). Colts punt. Chiefs -– three rushes, two Croyle completions and a sack –- do, too. Colts kick a field goal, leaving the Chiefs three seconds: Croyle completes a pass; Chiefs try shenanigans via lateral, fumble. Game over.

Interpretation: Chiefs lose by a field goal to the defending Super Bowl champions. At their house.

November 25 vs. OAK, week 12, 20-17 L

Stats: 12/23, 145 yards, INT, long of 24

The deets: Chiefs get the ball to start the game, and surprise –- they run on first down for a two-yard gain. Croyle scrambles on second, completes, but is then picked off trying to find Bowe on third down. Raiders kick a field goal. The Chiefs shock the world with a run play on their next first down, and Croyle connects with Bowe on second for a first. This time they actually do shock the world and call a pass play on first but Croyle, unable to find anyone open, throws it away. Clearly paranoid after that, the play calling then features six runs on the next seven plays, the lone pass attempt incomplete as Croyle again sought Bowe. The seventh play of the drive is a rushing touchdown for KC.

Raiders punt, Chiefs retaliate with vicious run-run-pass-punt ensuing drive. But wait -– there was trickery involved: That pass play on third down was a draw play, so -– shocker -– it was a run, too. Kansas City punts. Oakland gets a field goal. Solari calls a first-down pass play again, and it’s incomplete. Two Croyle completions then precede four runs and another incompletion. One more run and a Croyle scramble set up a Chiefs FG.

Raiders fumble on the third play of their next drive; KC recovers. The Chiefs, with the ball again, pass on first, but see the completion negated by a penalty. Two incompletions follow, and on comes Dustin Colquitt. Raiders stall, punt, and leave the Chiefs with 32 seconds in the half. Croyle is sacked, they rush for four yards, and the QB takes a knee.

Raiders punt to open the second, Chiefs call three rushes, earn two penalties, and Croyle throws incomplete, looking for Bowe (thus far every incompletion of his has targeted Bowe, Kolby Smith, or Gilbert Harris). Raiders start on their own 35, assemble a touchdown drive. Croyle scrambles on first (Chiefs get a first down via penalty), is sacked on first, and the Chiefs call a run on second. He connects with Gonzalez for a first down, is sacked again, hits Parker, hands off twice, touchdown Chiefs, capping a 63-yard, nine play drive.

Raiders punt, Chiefs call three run plays (one of which nets a first), and Croyle connects with Bowe. Two more runs (and another penalty) precede a Croyle completion, a Croyle incompletion, and yes, another Rayner miss, this time from 33. Daunte Culpepper throws two passes for 63 yards, and Justin Fargas runs one in from 14; Oakland takes the lead. The Chiefs, at their own 25, start with a penalty, go Croyle complete, rush, Croyle incomplete (Kris Wilson), Croyle complete, rush, Croyle incomplete (Webb), rush, Croyle complete, rush, Croyle complete, Croyle complete, fall one yard shy of the first-down marker, and lose the spot challenge.

They then, in their infinite wisdom, lose one yard on an actual Herman Edwards fourth-down attempt, and turn the ball over on downs, leaving the Raiders to rush and kneel to end it.

Interpretation: This, as many Chiefs-Raiders games are, was a sloppy, highly penalized contest with mostly poor play calling, but a fair amount of execution. Too many drops, too many sacks, and all in all, a game Kansas City should’ve won on more than one occasion.

December 9 @ DEN, week 14, 7-41 L

Stats: 15/29, 132 yards, TD, INT, long of 22

The deets: Damon Huard returned as the starter in week 12 and the Chargers easily handled Kansas City, but it was back to Brodie for this lovely trip to Colorado. Denver started the game with the ball, and four plays, one and-a-half minutes later, they were in the end zone. Drive one for the Chiefs featured one short pass, two tiny runs, and a punt. Denver took just under four minutes to go 84 yards and make it a two-score lead. Kansas City’s next drive included two penalties, two Croyle completions, one rush, and a punt.

Then Denver punted, and Kansas City went three and out with one rush and two Croyle incompletions (Wilson and Gonzalez targeted). Denver punted again. Croyle incomplete (Bowe), one-yard rush, Croyle incomplete (Bowe (but penalty on Denver)), Croyle complete, four rushes, Croyle sacked. Croyle complete, rush, Croyle incomplete (Bowe). Another penalty followed, as did a Croyle completion, another QB sack, a completion to Bowe, another penalty, and a 15-yard strike to Gonzalez for a touchdown.

Denver needed just over four minutes to go 79 yards and score again. Inside the two-minute warning, a short rush preceded two Croyle incompletions (both Webb), and a punt. Denver needed one minute, 11 seconds to get from their own 15 to within range for a 37-yard field goal. Kansas City started the second half with a three and out (two poor runs and a Croyle incompletion (Wilson)). The Broncos chewed up six-plus minutes in obtaining their next field goal. KC retaliated by throwing an incompletion, and then an interception, which resulted in another home-team touchdown.

Chiefs with the ball again go complete pass, sack, sack/fumble: Denver ball. This time the Broncos only needed 42 seconds to get in the end zone. Every good coach knows, though, that down 41-7 in the third, you line up in the shotgun and run a draw play on first down. That was followed by a penalty, two Croyle incompletions (Gonzalez, Bowe), and a Colquitt punt. The following drive looked familiar: incomplete (Bowe), negative rush, negative-pass play from shotgun, punt. It got crazy after that, though: incomplete pass (Boomer Grigsby), two rushes for no gain, punt. And the final drive: incomplete (Gonzalez), five straight completions, sack/fumble. Denver ball, victory formation.

Interpretation: It’s tough, without the game tape, to use stats to say what happened in this game. (Note: Actually, it's not. The Chiefs got pounded by Denver in this contest.) Educated guesses, however, would say that a) the Chiefs were now on a seven-year streak of never winning in this building, b) this team was too undisciplined, evidenced by numerous penalties in each game examined in the ’07 season, c) the defense –- looking at you, Herm I’m-a-defense-guy Edwards –- was despicable, d) Kolby Smith might’ve had a nice 150-yard-game in his first NFL start two weeks prior, but that was at home and against a shitty Raiders team. You don’t feature Smith up the middle (13 rushes for 12 yards) on the road in Denver, and e) the passing game sputtered at best. It looked like Croyle was trying to spread the targets around, but there were way too many incompletions, be they the fault of the receivers, quarterback, or both. Either way you slice it, that was a ridiculously terrible display of professional football.

December 16 vs. TEN, week 15, 26-17 L

Stats: 25/43, 217 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, long of 23

The deets: Tennessee opened the game with an eight-play, three-and-a-half minute touchdown drive. Kansas City responded with incomplete (Bowe), incomplete (Kennison), complete but short, punt. Titans punt, Chiefs feature three completions, one incomplete pass (Bowe), punt. Titans punt. Chiefs: three runs, Croyle completion, three straight runs, Croyle incompletion (Bowe), penalty, Croyle completion, run, Croyle incompletion (Smith), Croyle to Parker for a touchdown.

Titans punt, Chiefs fumble the punt, Titans recover. They kick a field goal to go up three. Chiefs: incomplete (Wilson), run, end around, two completions, penalty, incomplete (Gonzalez), two completions, incomplete (Gonzalez), run, completion, run, incomplete (Gonzalez), Croyle to Wilson for a touchdown. Tennessee punts, Chiefs go completion, run, run to end the half.

To start the second it’s complete, complete, incomplete (Bowe), punt. Titans kick a field goal. Chiefs with the ball again go three runs, two penalties, three straight completions, penalty, two completions, incomplete (fleaflicker to Webb), complete, incomplete, field goal. Titans use one and-a-quarter minutes, three plays to score a touchdown. Croyle, targeting Gonzalez, is picked off on the first play of the drive, and the Titans kick a field goal.

Chiefs go four runs, two incompletions (both to Webb), and punt. Titans kick another field goal. Chiefs: incomplete (Kennison), complete, run, complete, then Croyle (again targeting Gonzalez) is picked off. Tennessee kills the remaining four minutes and change.

Interpretation: This does not look like a great game for Croyle, but it’s not a bad one (three early scoring drives), either. It’s tough to imagine defenses struggling to scheme when Kolby Smith is your running back, and when you’re passing, you’re either looking for Gonzalez, Bowe, Webb, or Smith. Special teams appeared to have been pretty unspecial as well.

December 23 @ DET, week 16, 20-25 L

Stats: 9/12, 69 yards, INT, long of 29

The deets: Lions punt to open, Chiefs go complete, run, complete, run, penalty, two completions, run, two completions, incomplete (Jackie Battle), punt. Detroit scores a touchdown; Kansas City goes two short completions, incomplete (Gonzalez), punt blocked for a safety. Detroit follows up the safety with a field goal.

KC goes complete, run, Croyle (looking Gonzalez) intercepted for a pick six. He was penalized on the play, and replaced (via injury) by Huard, who went 24/36 for 305 yards, 2 TD, and a long of 34. In relief, Huard led three touchdown drives (the third with a missed two-point conversion. Detroit mustered only six points via two field goals after the Chiefs made the substitution.

Interpretation: Kansas City was down 19 when the QB switch was made, and this one looks much worse than it actually was. Kansas City’s defense and special teams had allowed a touchdown, a field goal, and a safety -– also known as every possible way you can score in football -– prior to Croyle’s pick six. That Huard came in and was able to rally is a high mark for him and a negative for Croyle, but when Croyle was in, the defense wasn’t helping keep Detroit off of the scoreboard, and, in my biased estimation, this pick six can be lumped into the rookie-mistake category.

December 30 @ NYJ, week 16, 10-13 L

Stats: 20/43, 195 yards, TD, long of 26

The deets: The Jets turned the ball over on downs on the first drive, and the Chiefs responded by going three and out: two Kolby Smith runs and one short Croyle completion (also to Smith). Jets punt. Chiefs go run, Croyle incompletion (Gonzalez), penalty, sack, punt. Jets punt. Two-yard rush by Jackie Battle, Croyle complete, Croyle incomplete (Gonzalez), punt. Jets score a touchdown.

Croyle goes incomplete (Battle), complete to Gonzalez but for no gain, incomplete (Jason Dunn), Chiefs punt but get the ball back for roughing the kicker. Two runs get the Chiefs seven yards, and a Croyle pass to Webb goes for no gain. Chiefs line up in punt formation, but fake it and get a first. Croyle throws three incompletions (two to Gonzalez, one to Battle), and this time they really do punt. Jets go three and out.

Croyle completes a pass, two running plays are called, Croyle goes incomplete (Webb), and the Chiefs settle for three. Jets chew up nearly five minutes, answer the field goal. To start the second half, the Chiefs see Croyle complete a pass, call a run, another completion, an incompletion, a penalty on Croyle for intentional grounding, and another imcompletion (Bowe), then punt.

The Jets go three and out. The Chiefs see a Croyle incompletion, a penalty, and two Croyle incompletions (Gonzalez, Webb). Chiefs punt. The Jets turn it over on downs again, and the Chiefs go run, penalty, run, sack, but via another penalty, see the play expunged. What followed: completion, run, incompletion (Parker), incompletion (Gonzalez), punt. Jets punt.

Chiefs go Croyle completion squared, run, Croyle incomplete (Webb), run, Croyle incomplete (Wilson), punt. Jets punt. (Note: Thrilling game, huh?)

Run, Croyle complete, Croyle scramble, Croyle incomplete (Bowe), Croyle sacked, punt. Jets punt.

Run, Croyle complete, Croyle incomplete (Gonzalez), Croyle complete twice, Croyle incomplete (Webb), Croyle complete twice, Croyle to Webb for a touchdown. Jets punt.

Croyle incomplete (Webb), Croyle complete twice, Croyle incomplete (Gonzalez), Croyle complete, Croyle sacked, Chiefs punt.

In overtime, the Jets go from their own 30 to the Chiefs 15 in five minutes, and kick the game-winning field goal.

Interpretation: This game looked much worse for Croyle than the previous contest, in that there were way too many incompletions. More specifically, there were way too many incompletions to the best tight end to ever play the game. In his defense, he was sacked too often, and had ridiculously poor play calling from lifetime-offensive-line-coach-turned-coordinator Mike Solari, and really, zero talent (aside from Gonzalez) around him. John Welbourne must’ve been flagged 20 times for false start that season, and he was one of the veterans. Casey Wiegmann and Brian Waters hold their own, but Will Svitek and Damion McIntosch at tackle were just atrocious.

So, Croyle gets next to no protection, has Jackie Battle and Kolby Smith in the running game to balance out his “passing game,” and when he drops back to throw, he’s got: Samie Parker –- after being cut by the Chiefs was cut by four teams in one year, got bounced from the UFL, and last year played in the AFL; Jeff Webb –- one touchdown in three years with the Chiefs before getting bounced from the CFL and landing in the UFL; Dwayne Bowe –- basically a complete knucklehead until Todd Haley got here; Kris Wilson –- 52 catches in seven seasons; Jason Dunn -– who, at the time was playing with crushed soda cans for knees; and Gonzalez to look for.

That’s some fantastic personnel, there, Herman Edwards. Add to it that the play calling is either so unimaginative, or so terrified for Croyle’s life, that they next to never sniff out a decent-sized play. Critics and fans will always say that great quarterbacks will rise to the challenge in the face of adversity, but at what time do you make the adversity last call?


September 7 @ NWE, week one, 10-17 L

Stats: 11/19, 88 yards, long of 20

The deets: A strong start for the Chiefs as they open the season against the Patriots in a game that featured Matt Cassel as the leading passer (for New England), Larry Johnson (allegedly resigned by Miami) (Update: Nevermind!)as the leading rusher, and Randy Moss (staring at retirement) as the leading receiver. New England fumbled on the opening drive, resulting in a Johnson run, a Croyle completion, and a Croyle incompletion (Webb) followed by a punt. Bernard Pollard knocked Tom Brady out for the game/season courtesy of a totally legit hit, and Moss fumbled, resulting in another Chiefs turnover.

KC’s drive: Two runs, penalty. Two runs, Croyle completion, run. Croyle completion, run. Two Croyle incompletions (Mike Cox!, Jamaal Charles), and another punt. Patriots score a touchdown on the ensuing drive.

KC with the ball again: Run, run, Croyle complete. Punt. NE with the ball again, and they punt. KC gets it back: Croyle incomplete (Bowe), Croyle complete (Bowe), Croyle incomplete (Bowe), punt. NE punts again.

KC one more time: Run, run, Croyle complete, Croyle incomplete (Bowe). Croyle complete, run, run. Croyle completes two to Gonzalez, then incomplete to Bowe. Run, incomplete (Bowe), Chiefs kick a field goal.

First drive after the half: Run, two completions, five runs, Croyle sacked and hurt. Chiefs punt. Patriots score a touchdown. Huard in at quarterback for KC, 10 plays, five minutes, touchdown strike to Bowe (after connecting with Bowe twice on the drive).

Interpretation: It’s clear now, that things are not looking up for Croyle. He’s frequently hurt, and while he occasionally puts together scoring drives, passes seem to fall incomplete with receivers when other passers hit those same receivers in the same game. The chips are not falling in his favor.

October 19 vs. TEN, week seven, 10-34 L

Stats: 9/10, 63 yards, long of 22

The deets: Croyle complete, run, Croyle complete, punt to start the game. Tennessee, with their first shot at it, splits the uprights. KC, take two: Run, run, penalty, incomplete (Mark Bradley), punt. Tennessee retaliates with a touchdown.

Croyle complete twice, penalty, Croyle complete, run, complete, complete, penalty. Croyle completes two, and on the second, gets pancaked by Albert Haynesworth; does not return. On the next play of the drive, Nick Novak missed a field-goal chance. Tennessee scores, Huard fumbles, recovers, Novak misses again. (Note: Nice sign, Herm.) Huard looks terrible, gets sacked, hurt, in comes Tyler Thigpen. (Note: Nice O-line, guys.)

Interpretation: This team is an absolute disaster. There’re penalties on nearly every offensive possession. The run game is a joke, and there’s still no talent at wide receiver outside of the potential in Bowe. There’re days when Huard can make things happen, and there’re days when he cannot. He’s old, and like Croyle, had already taken a beating through six weeks of the season.


September 13 @ BAL, week one, 24-38 L

Stats: 16/24, 177 yards, 2 TD, long of 50

The deets: Another season, another opener, another three and out to start. The drive featured two runs and a Croyle incompletion (Sean Ryan). Chiefs punt, Ravens get a field goal. Croyle complete, Croyle sacked, Croyle incomplete, Chiefs punt. Ravens score a touchdown on their ensuing possession.

Chiefs again: Run, two Croyle completions, punt. Next possession: three runs, featuring Johnson, Tyler Thigpen, and Charles. Then a punt. Baltimore with a three and out of their own, but the punt is blocked and the Chiefs score a touchdown. Ravens miss a field goal at the end of their next drive.

Kansas City with the ball: Penalty, run, run, Croyle completion, run, run, Croyle completion, run, Croyle completion, and the first half expires.

Ravens marching to open the half. Derrick Johnson with a Joe Flacco pick, and a healthy return. Run, penalty, Croyle to Bowe for a touchdown. Ravens answer the touchdown.

Chiefs’ turn: Run, run, Croyle complete, penalty, punt. Ravens punt, too.

Next drive: Run, run, Croyle complete, run, Croyle incomplete (Ryan), Croyle incomplete (Bradley). Chiefs get a field goal. Ravens answer with a touchdown.

Here we go again: Croyle complete, Croyle incomplete (Bradley), three straight Croyle completions, Croyle to Ryan for a touchdown. Ravens answer with a touchdown.

One more time: Croyle sacked, incomplete twice (Bowe, Ryan), sacked again, KC turns it over on downs. Ravens score a touchdown, and on the final drive, Croyle throws two completions, one incomplete (Ryan) as time expires.

Interpretation: There is no mistake that this was Brodie Croyle’s best game as a Kansas City Chief. And it was opening day, on the road, in Baltimore. Tough crowd, very tough team. He was far from perfect, still throwing too many incompletions, but he didn’t turn it over, either. Without looking at the tape, it’s tough to say whether or not the sacks were because he didn’t recognize the pressure, or because the protection wasn’t there. The likelihood is that it was a combination of the two. Every quarterback is going to get sacked, and you’re only better if you can at least attempt to gauge when that’s about to happen. On the other hand, it’s the Baltimore Ravens. Give the man some credit, and know that he put up 116.1 passer rating on that afternoon.

What’s more: New regime, new coach and coaching staff, slightly improved personnel and new a new mentality, and look at what the boy was capable of.

November 29 @ SDG, week 12, 14-43 L

Stats: 1/2, 3 yards; I'll bet you can guess the long.

The deets: Late in mop-up duty, getting smoked by San Diego, some backups come in, and as the Matt Cassel era had long since been ushered in, it was time for some Croyle action: Run, incomplete (Bobby Wade), complete, punt.

Interpretation: Does it matter when it’s clear that the game is out of hand?

December 6 vs. DEN, week 13, 13-44 L

Stats: 6/14, 50 yards, long of 13

The deets: First drive in the third quarter, Brodie Croyle suddenly comes into the game and lines up in the punt formation. He throws incomplete to Tim Gafford on fourth down, a would’ve-been first-down play. I don’t need the game tape for that one. I was right there behind him. He was under some pressure, but got the throw off. Receiver should’ve had it.

Croyle back in late in the third, and completes a pass. Charles scores a touchdown on the next play. On their next possession, however, he throws three straight incompletions (Quinten Lawrence, Lance Long, Wade), and KC punts.

Next possession: Croyle complete twice, run, incomplete (Wade). Complete, complete, three incompletions (Long, Wade twice), complete, Chiefs turn it over on downs.

Interpretation: One of the biggest shitholes of a game I’ve ever attended or watched. Not even a top-10-of-all-time QB’s going to save your team from defeat when the team lets a sorry Denver team run all over them at home.


December 12 @ SD, week 14, 0-31 L

Stats: 7/17, 40 yards, long of 16

The deets: Chiefs start with the ball first: four runs, a Croyle completion, and a punt. In seven plays, six minutes, San Diego goes for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Chiefs: Run, Croyle completion, Croyle incomplete (Terrence Copper), punt. Chargers punt, too.

Croyle sacked, Chiefs run, Croyle complete, punt. This time it’s nine plays, five minutes, 69 yards to a Charger touchdown.

Chiefs: Run, run, Croyle complete, run, Croyle incomplete (Bowe), Croyle complete, punt. Nine plays, less than three minutes, and 80 yards later, San Diego has their third touchdown of the half.

Croyle goes incomplete (Bowe), complete, complete, incomplete (Bowe), is sacked as the half expires.

To start the second, San Diego marches, but Philip Rivers is ultimately picked off by Eric Berry. KC retaliates by going run, run, incomplete (Bowe), punt.

The Chargers are putting together another drive, but Rivers is sacked by Tamba Hali, and he fumbles, which is recoverd by Wallace Gilberry. Chiefs with the ball: run, run, penalty, incomplete (Bowe), punt.

Chargers punt, Chiefs go sack, incomplete (Bowe), incomplete (Charles), punt. Chargers answer with a field goal.

Chiefs go penalty, two incompletions (both to Verran Tucker), sack, punt. San Diego has a big return, and on the ensuing drive, scores with ease their fourth touchdown of the game. Chiefs bring in backups, kneel.

Interpretation: Anybody that watched this game and decided during it or afterwards that Croyle was garbage and solely to blame for this loss was delusional. Make no mistake: This was Croyle’s worst start as a pro. By far. But the way the team as a whole played was a joke. I said it then, and I say it again today: When Matt Cassel didn’t get on that plane, it was like the rest of the team didn’t either. And that’s not to take anything away from San Diego.

They’re a good team, they’re at home, and they’re looking to get back at the Chiefs for the season-opening loss to them in Kansas City. Add to that they’re finally -– in typical Charger fashion –- firing on all late-season cylinders, and wholly aware that the Chiefs will be starting their backup. But the running game for KC never got going; the offensive line couldn’t protect Croyle, and frankly –- save for the two turnovers created by the defense –- the whole team looked terrible.

More often than not, it’s up to your quarterback to make something happen. He has to be the spark plug to get points on the board, especially when the whole team is struggling, and Croyle, in this contest, didn’t do that. He didn’t come close, really. You blame the offensive line and scheming for lack of protection, but you also blame him for not sensing pressure and getting rid of the football. Again, without the tape, it’s hard to imagine why there were so many incompletions, especially five to Bowe, who was having a monster year.

I put some of the onus on him. Going through each of these games, there are so many Bowe drops, that it’s like his confidence in Croyle checked out months and months ago, yet the guys that are barely hanging on to a roster spot are catching most balls thrown their way. All in all though, it was a team loss, and anyone that places it solely on Croyle is being unfair, deliberate or not.

December 26 vs. TEN, week 15, 14-34 W

Stats: 1/2, -2 yards; Again: You got the long.

The deets: It’s 34-7 Chiefs when Croyle comes in late in the third quarter. Run, completion, intercepted (intended for Bowe). Cassel back in to finish the game.

Interpretation: Not a good sign for Croyle, but it’s no surprise that Bowe was targeted on that pick.

Not a pretty picture for a guy that was, in my mind, going to lead us to salvation, but as I said: pretty shitty football team all around. The point of it all, though, was to announce my misguided man crush, to briefly address my reasons for having them, and to admit the erroneousness of their existence.

There, then. It has been shouted from the mountaintops, decreed from the balconies of edifices, echoed across the plains and in and out of forests.

I was wrong about Brodie Croyle. The next time the Chiefs serve me pudding, I’ll wait for the proof.


Brock said...

I saw the last plays by KC Chief Brodie Croyle at Arrowhead last December... ...and then off he went, for the game and the team.